In 1969 Lester Jacobsen and Suzanne Pomerantzeff founded the Academy of Ballet Arts and led the classes and summer intensives for the next forty years. ABA is home to the St. Petersburg Ballet Company and the St. Petersburg Folk Ensemble (Russian folk dance).
Academy of Ballet Arts dancers have gone on to perform at prestigious ballet companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Met, Cirque de Soleil, Cleveland Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, David Parsons, Frankfort Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Kiel Opera Ballet, Lion King (Simba, Broadway Co.), Milwaukee Ballet, Moiseyev Dance Company, Mummenschanz, Pennsylvania Ballet, Repertory Dance Theater, Riverdance, San Diego Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and more.
The mission of the Academy of Ballet Arts, Inc. is to develop the potential of each student to express his or her individual ideas and emotions through the beauty of movement. The Academy values diversity, nurtures creativity and builds community. The Academy envisions developing a direct connection with the county's residents and visitors through arts education and public performances. Through the Academy's professional curriculum and performances, young dancers will be prepared to pursue a career in the arts.